Category Archives: Blog Platforms

Fictionaut Reviewed

Screen shot 2010-04-10 at 11.23.32 PM.pngFictionaut is Flickr for writers. Which, really is to say that it’s a social network built around writing – sometimes drafts of novels, sometimes flash fiction – and so you go to Fictionaut to friend people, and leave comments, join groups, and submit stories, and so on so forth.

In the few months since Fictionaut’s release, a number of writers have described the service as a breath of fresh air. Some use it as a stage before publication – throw the drafts of your latest novel on Fictionaut, and you’re guaranteed a discerning audience. Most striking, however, is this love-letter by James Robinson, who says: “Fictionaut provides a round-the-clock, faithfully attentive audience. Bless its founders.” I saw that, thought for a bit, and emailed founder Jürgen Fauth for an invite.

Here are some thoughts, loosely connected, on Fictionaut.


I’m must say that I’m most surprised at the level of community on the site. The majority of writing websites that I know have communities that aren’t particularly … nice. Fictionaut’s, however, not only seem to be consistently nice, but tend to also refrain from commenting on works they do not like. (If the writing is horrible, you keep quiet and go somewhere else). The net effect is that you feel – when you’re writing there – to be part of this welcoming, supportive group. And that’s a rather refreshing thing to have.

From experience, I’m not sure if such ‘supportive writer culture’ can or will last forever. The culture exists naturally, at the moment, bubbling up from the community, but if at any point Fictionaut opens its doors to the general public, the influx of new members may seriously undermine the tone and pitch of the site. And that’s something I pray won’t happen, though I’m not sure how they’re going to do it. Fictionaut will have to be very careful when they expand; my hope is that they’d get the formula just right.

(I suspect that the solutions for maintaining quality discussion would have to be technological at heart, the same way Paul Graham has programmed several clever things into Hacker News, in order to maintain intelligent discourse. But how exactly this applies to writing I’m not particularly sure.)

Readability baked right in

Fictionaut forces its writers to publish stories according to a standardized, highly readable format. I posted a short story on the site and came away impressed with the quality of the user experience. Reader comments are placed in the sidebar, there’s a section for author notes, and the element placement leads me to suspect that everything you see on-site is deliberately designed to be that way.

There are little flourishes, too, like the beautiful popups that appear when you add someone as a friend, or when you’ve had a failed login:

Javascript Popup

I realize I’m a being a bit of a design geek here, but it’s hard to miss: someone has spent a lot of time making sure everything works intuitively on Fictionaut. I applaud his (or her) attention to detail.

Superb writing

Writing is good on Fictionaut. I sometimes spend hours on the site, reading newer, cooler, better stories – and I can say with some confidence that there’s a high standard to which most Fictionaut writers adhere to. At the very least, there’s a base level of competence that you don’t usually find anywhere else.

A large chunk of the site’s stories are flash fiction, followed by poetry, short stories, and a sprinkling of books-in-progress, posted chapter-by-chapter.

Screen shot 2010-04-10 at 11.31.09 PM.png

I should note that this quality didn’t happen by accident. Fictionaut’s founder, Jürgen Fauth, has a PhD in English/Creative Writing from USM’s Centre for Writers. The core community of the site was handpicked, I think – and new memberships are still dependent on invitations. Accordingly, the site currently leans towards literary fiction, and it feels – at times – like a literary magazine.

At the moment you either get in on invitation, or you apply for an invite. The application page leads me to suspect that Fictionaut enforces a filter for writers – you’ll either have to be competent enough, or established enough to get in (or you’ll have to know someone who’s already in, I suppose). This sounds scary and slightly elitist, but it probably explains the quality of the community and writing on the site today.

There’s a paragraph in the Venuszine Fictionaut review that says:

Pia Erhardt, a seasoned writer from New Orleans who recently had the “most favorited” story, “Ambulance,” agrees that it’s sometimes “terrifying” to post her unedited work, mostly because she respects what her fellow members are writing.

Quality begets quality, and so – again – I’m not particularly sure how they’re going to maintain this without the current invitation system.

(My favourite story on Fictionaut so far is Gold, by Ethel Rohan. To be fair, though, all her stories are just as good.)

Closing Thoughts

Fictionaut’s a little like an oasis, at the moment: it’s quite rare to find a such a large community of good writers online – even at its current size – who’re so supportive of each other. Despite my doubts with Fictionaut’s scalability, I must add that writing and reading on the site has been one of the more enjoyable things I’ve done, lately.

And so – while I’m not sure if Fictionaut can keep it up, or even where they’re headed, I really am quite grateful for the site, for what they’re currently doing for writers. I merely hope that Fictionaut ages gracefully, without the worst of teething problems that so often follows a growing – and social – community. I wish Fictionaut well.

Tuesday, 3 November, 2009

A Format For Online Fiction, Part 2

It’s been some time since I last wrote on a format for online fiction. In that time, however, several members of the web fiction community have already started work on their respective visions for this format.  Some of them have chosen to develop an alternative system, coded from scratch; others have started work from the outside-in, choosing instead to build on a solid WordPress theme system. Diverse as these approaches are, all of the work being done at the moment are possible routes to a standard web fiction format, and for that I am thankful. This post is intended to be a follow-up to my original article on the format. I intend to discuss how such a format may look like, and then possibly convince you to adopt some of these elements into your own work today.

A Recap

Novelr’s been around for some time now, and in that time we’ve learnt quite a few things together. Let’s start off with a couple of things that we do know about presenting online fiction. Peel off that scalp and think back: what have we learnt together, exactly?

One of the first things we’ve got to remember is that reading online is crucially divided into two distinct stages. These stages exist in the offline, paper-book world as well, but they’re not as critical for the writer as they are on the Internet. The first stage is called the browsing stage. During this stage a potential reader skims content to determine if the work is worth reading or no. It isn’t just the opening text that the reader takes into account – in the browsing stage, it is everything from the subject matter to the included pictures to the size of the font to the weight of the book in the hands that goes into a reader’s evaluation. If the reader thinks the text is promising, he or she then moves into the second stage, the reading stage. You and I should know this – if you are a book lover, like I am, then you will recognize this stage as the one where you forget about the sun and the ocean and so get sunburnt with a shadow-image of a book burnt into your chest. The reading stage calls for complete attention on the text. Everything else – links, ads, sidebar text – are superfluous to the reading experience, and they fall to the periphery of a reader’s vision.

The second thing on presenting online fiction that we must remember is what I call the Picture Book Effect: credibility and perception of online content is shaped by the design/format in which that content is presented. In simpler terms: your readers judge your work by the visual cues you have on your site. There are deliberate differences between the New York Times and a celebrity gossip blog. Both appeal to different demographics, and so both have different visual cues. One is designed to be credible, the other is designed to be kinky. One is black and white, the other shocking pink. How readers view your site depends as much on the design of said site as it does on the text you have provided them with.

The third thing that we must recall are the basic principles of readable design. Large fonts, good contrast, clear colours. An intuitive site structure. What exactly these elements are and how you apply them is beyond the scope of this article – go read some of the previous Novelr posts on the topic, or pay a visit to the pros.

So what have we learnt? We have learnt that an ideal fiction format is designed around a browsing stage and a reading stage. We have learnt that the site must have a coherent visual identity, one that should – ideally, at least – complement the fiction. And thirdly, lastly, we have learnt that the site must be readable.

The Online Fiction Format

So what should an online fiction format look like? What elements should we include with it? In this we are faced with a complex task, and so it would be helpful to begin first by talking about what we wouldn’t need to include with the online fiction format.

The first thing we have no need to include is forcefully-readable text. This is simply pragmatic: it makes no sense to limit authors to one font over another, or to ban them from using font sizes below a certain cutoff-point. Neither can we stop writers from using electric pink or neon green in their prose. Most of us already know how to display our fiction in a readable manner. The ones who don’t will quickly learn from the lack of happy readers.

We don’t have to create distinct visual identities for each work. We also don’t have to adjust for all possible forms of presentation. Some writers will want innovative, highly experimental forms in which to present their fiction; this format does not serve them. It simple cannot: no format will attract or hold the interest of such mavericks for very long. This particular format will be for the majority of authors out there: the ones who want to write and who do not wish to worry too much about the underlying mechanics of code and presentation.

And so what should this format be like? At its most basic level, it should have two things:

  • It should be built to accommodate the two states: browsing and reading
  • It should be easy to customize, both visually and practically

We shall deal with these two elements in order.

Thursday, 10 September, 2009

An Addendum

Scriptwriter John August wrote recently on the recent WordPress attacks:

Over the weekend, there was a lot of uproar about a worm attack on WordPress installations that wrecked some notable blogs. Amid the sometimes-smug observations by the unaffected, I found one point that needs to be elevated to basic principle:

Most people shouldn’t be running their own blogging software.

When I last blogged about the security issue, I asked two questions: 1) what are the odds? and 2) should we be thinking about switching platforms? These two questions resulted in a number of replies – in Novelr’s comments, via Twitter; via email. But my 2nd question wasn’t what some of you thought it to be. I was asking, rather, if we should be thinking about building yet another CMS, when WordPress itself –  a remarkably polished project, I must say – was compromised by a worm attack.

I’ll be posting a summary of the few features we’ve discussed soon, and hopefully also a couple of mockups of what a good fiction format should look like (my copy of Photoshop doesn’t seem to like Snow Leopard very much). But while the need and the feature set for a format is clear, the how-tos and the implementation is still far from obvious. Till they are, however, I’d like to know your thoughts on this security issue – how safe do you feel on WordPress? Would you consider switching? Or should you prefer a hosted service, like August suggests?

Friday, 7 September, 2007

Blog Platform Respect

Do blog platforms affect the first impressions of our blooks?

Blooks come in many shapes and sizes. They are presented in different fonts, with different site designs, and on different blogging platforms. There are as different and as unconnected to each other as one novel is connected to another – there may be some inter textual references, but most of the time they are unique standalone works, beautiful and solitary in birth.


Above all they are websites. Like all websites, blooks are subjected to a 3 second window of opportunity where the user gets his first impressions, and then either moves on, or stays.

Here’s a simple question: have you ever judged a website in 3 seconds? A first impression that shaped what you thought of the site forever?

Yes, you have. If not consciously, then you did so unconsciously. You aren’t likely to read anything from a website with a shocking pink background. And if you do, you’d be cursing the designer every moment you’re there.

Let’s take it a step further:

Does the blog platform on which the blog was published affects your judgment of the overall quality of the blog? No? Yes? For a little while?

Interesting, isn’t it?

I’ve been about the blogosphere for quite awhile, and there are a few things about it that perplex me. This is one of them: why are Blogger blogs less respected than WordPress and Movable Type ones? It is an unexplained bias, and I find even myself judging the blog by what platform it is on. Blogger? Cheap. WordPress? Ahh! Some decency. Movable Type? Professional. Custom platform? Wow!

It might possibly be just me, but run a search for the keywords ‘I hate Blogger‘ and compare that to ‘I hate WordPress‘. The results for the former are in the hundreds; whereas legitimate thrashings of WordPress are confined to the first 6 results (as of today, that is).

There are a few reasons, I’m sure. The Internet community at large loves open sourced products, and will happily bless WordPress and defend it despite its faults. WordPress is the Apple of the Internet’s eye. Blogger is cheap, free, not as flexible or powerful, plus it is home to over a million blogs – most of them personal journals. Before Google took action Blogger was also littered with hundreds of splogs (spam blogs – you know, the ones filled with links to viagra sites … ).

Thursday, 8 March, 2007

Blogging Platform for Authors Roundup

After eight days we’ve come to the end of our Blogging platforms series – written from an author’s perpective, with limited coding skills. Let’s take an overall look at each of the 6 platforms:

Blogger: -Pros: Flexibility, a good amount of theme control, ease of use. Cons: Bad reliability at times, as well as less than satisfactory speeds. Recommended for blooking, or posting a book in blog form. Complete feature set, good looking themes, active development, good support. Cons: Severe limitations – almost no customization (can customize CSS if you pay). Stay away, unless they allow you a greater say in your blog’s theme. Robust, stable, in active development, comes with complete support base, open source, free, the list goe on and on. Cons: Steep learning curve for non web professionals who want to customize their blogs, needs own server. The perfect solution for writing a blook because almost anything can be done with WordPress.

Blogsome:Pros: Flexible, WordPress features, ease of use with theme customization, hassle-free plugins. Cons: Reliability, no ability to use own domain name. An okay choice, but the inability to use your own domain name (short of using a redirect, which is a waste of time) should detract you from it.

Terapad:Pros: One stop location for everything you need in a blog, good cuztomization options. Cons: Interface can be improved – not very easy to use for the first timer, only four themes. Terapad is a wild card – still very new, but promising. Only time will tell as to how it all shapes up.

And, last, but not least:

Vox:Pros: Ease of use trumps all other 5 selections, huge selection of themes, seamless integration with third party web apps. Cons: Social orientated, so not suitable for blog promotion, no commenting for non Vox users, no theme customization. Use this only if you don’t even know what a blog is. Great for beginners, or for creating fictional blogs of fictional characters. Otherwise, stay away.

And this is the conclusion of the series! Should you ever wish to blog your book, take a stroll through these reviews – I do hope something in there will be helpful to ensure choosing the right blogging platform sets you off to a head start in blooking.

Vox for Authors

This is post is part of the ‘Choosing the right blogging platform – For Authors‘ series started ten days ago. We’ve reached the end of our series with this review, and of all 6 blogging platforms we’ve talked about Vox is probably the one least suited to writing a blook. But i’m including it in this series, mainly because of its popularity and simplicity.


When Vox was first released by Six Apart it was touted as the social blogging experience. Made for personal blogging, Vox is a cross between a blogging platform and a social network, which can easily be seen in what is called ‘Neighbourhoods’ – a collection of friends, family and other blogs that you read and maintain relationships with. While this doesn’t seem like a proper platform on which to write a book, i chose to review Vox mainly because of its attractions to the everyday user – something an author who is more used to paper and pen might appreciate.

Ease Of Use

Of the other 5 blogging platforms reviewed, none comes close to Vox in successfully integrating text, pictures, audio and video in a single, beautiful posting interface. It’s terribly easy to fall in love with posting in Vox – there even is a question of the day that appears everyday in your dashboard, setting off that spark of creativity whenever you feel lethargic and loath to cook up a post. But is this any good for writing a book online?


Well, Vox makes blogging understandable – even your grandmother can post pictures and videos and bring it all together on an good looking blog. Working with the assumption that the average author knows basic word processing skills, Vox can and will be able to accomodate a blook and make it easy for anyone – even if you’ve never heard of a blog – to post up chapters.


Vox has a whole plethora of themes, most of them beautiful, jaw dropping, but with limited cuztomization. The most they allow you to do is to upload your own header picture and determine the sidebar positions, but while this may seem harsh, the sheer amount of quality themes they provide more than make up for this. Vox themes allow you to select 3 collumn and 2 collumn variations, as well as sidebar elements and postitioning, thus making sure Vox blogs not only look good, they look different.


There’s not much else to be said about Vox’s looks, other than it looks extremely polished and well thought out, from the homepage to your posting screen to even the ads that pepper the service (they blend in with the background). It’s is free and its themes are click aplenty. End.

Monday, 5 March, 2007

Terapad for Authors

This is post is part of the ‘Choosing the right blogging platform – For Authors‘ series started eight days ago. We’ve covered Blogger, and three blogging platforms that use WordPress, so now we’re going to take a look at Terapad – a new player in blogging, but one with quite a lot of promise.

Terapad is a fairly new member to the blogging world. Apparently their creators took a look at what was available out there, saw that there were all these disparate functions on blogs, and then decided to bring it all together in one nice package, free of charge, but ad supported.


Ease Of Use

Terapad is above average in ease of use. You sense that they absolutely refuse to allow you to touch code, giving you little blanks for sidebar categories to paste your sidebar elements in, and allow seamless integration with third party services like Meebo and Google Analytics. It may take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with where the shiny ‘new post’ button is, but once you do it works slick and fast and easy.

The dashboard for Terapad is tabbed, and cleanly labelled, and each of these tabs when clicked shows you the options page, with a short explanation for what all the elements on page are about at the top. I’d have preferred it if there were little pop-ups telling me what the various options did, but all I got were non-informative little icons.

When it comes to handling text and the written word however, Terapad works brilliantly with no complaints on my part. It has a good editor, plenty of functions, and an easy to understand file system for organizing your pages and/or posts.


Terapad looks extremely polished. There are only 4 themes at the moment (unfortunately), and you can only touch the CSS for these themes, but everything from the ‘front-end’ to the ‘back-end’ looks beautiful. The Mac icons on each of the menu pages scream OSX, but at the very least it’s plagiarisism that oozes cool.


As for the blogs themselves I’ve yet to see anything jaw dropping, as most of the ‘top 10 sites’ all use one of the four themes (yawn). But a look at the style sheets behind each of these blogs told me that there’s quite a degree of custiomization available to the end user, and as time goes by I’m sure we’ll start seeing good, unique looking blogs powered by Terapad.


Terapad comes bundled with its own stat service, as well as forums, a store, a careers page, an events page and an image gallery. When you actually think about it, all of these tabs can be used by authors, with the possible exception of the careers page. The blog section will be for the blook, the events section can be used for book tours and readings, forums are just another way of reaching out to the reader, and the store can be used for eBook selling and/or blatant self promotion.

Saturday, 3 March, 2007

Blogsome for Authors


This is post is part of the ‘Choosing the right blogging platform – For Authors‘ series started six days ago. From the more common wordpress platforms, we’re now going to look at Blogsome – also a free WordPress Multi User service, but with major differences. Let’s see how good it is for writing a blook.

Blogsome has been around for quite some time, and the age of the service shows the instant you log in – Blogsome is using an extremely dated version of WordPress MU (multi user edition, as they say so themselves). In contrast to the current versions of WordPress, Blogsome’s user interface is grey, and not as attractive, as we’ll see for ourselves soon enough.

Ease of Use

Blogsome’s option organization is pretty clear cut from the outset, and fairly easy to understand for anyone who’s ever touched a blogging platform. It may be ugly but it’s clean and ugly (wow, talk about a new term for web design), and it gets the job done . There is absolutely no fuss since you don’t upload plugins or themes (more on this particular point later) and the visual editor bundled (with an activated plugin) is barebones and pretty much keeps everything you wish to use a click away. It’s impossible to get confused working on Blogsome, and that’s a very good thing.

Another thing about Blogsome is that there is absolutely no risk of something funny happening with the code, especially when installing plugins. A whole list is right there, waiting for you to activate them one by one – which is a very straightfoward process. Theme selection is based on one page, and the great thing about it is that not a line of PHP is seen anywhere throughout the platform. Good news for beginners, indeed.


As mentioned before, Blogsome uses an early version of WordPress, which means the user interface is not quite as pretty as the current blue, saliva inducing one. The themes however, do not lack. Blogsome uses a collection of 4 files to create a theme – one for the main page, one style sheet (css, obviously), one for posts and one for comments. This function is marginally better than Blogger’s and allows for greater theme control on a WordPress platform. Which can only be good, since you have trackback and the little bells and whistles only to be expected from WP.

Blogsome uses xhtml. It’s easier to understand, easier to use and flexible enough to allow for good looking themes. And since the only code you’ll handle on this platform is xhtml, authors can spend more time concentrating on the story and the plot, minimizing the time needed to bring their work online. Some may argue that you don’t truly have total theme control, but what it allows for is enough freedom for you to choose how your blog should look like.

Thursday, 1 March, 2007 for Authors

This is post is part of the ‘Choosing the right blogging platform – For Authors‘ series started five days ago. We’re going to move up from to the downloadable WordPress platfrom, and seeing how it fares for writing online.

The downloadable WordPress platform is the Firefox of bloggers – free, open source, reliable and powerful. The question is this: is it too daunting for the average author to use?


Ease of Use is very big on ease of use. Captions like ‘Our famed five minute install’ and its whimsical software upgrade pages poke fun at what they know to be a good user experience.

But while the application insists on its ease-of-use all through downloading, uploading, installing and then customizing, my personal experience two years ago with the platform, as ‘an average user of the internet (who understood basic HTML)’ deviated from the normal ‘5 minute install’, mainly because I used a dicky zip program, didn’t know what FTP was, and uploaded everything into the wrong directory. All in all it took me 2 hours to get everything up and running on my server. Not a good start for such a famed blogging platform, I thought then.

Hey, we’ve all got to start somewhere, don’t we?


But i’m getting slightly ahead of myself in this review. Allow me to explain roughly of what consists of a WordPress installation.

First off, you download the package from It contains a collection of files, mostly PHP, that make up the platform. You open up one file and edit a few lines.

Next, you get your hands on an FTP client (Filezilla is recommended) and then upload the hundred-plus files to a MySQL server. It must be noted that good, free and reliable hosts with PHP are very hard to find (in a year’s worth of searching for a friend the best i could come up with was F2O), but has a list of good hosts that you have to pay for.

Last of all you go through a breezy setup process that clearly shows why WordPress is so loved – smooth and easy, tongue in cheek.

WordPress sounds daunting, but for a platform as powerful as it is the setup and day-to-day running is well designed enough for almost anybody to use. Added features (through plugins) and themes are installed simply by uploading and activating (one click only). It’s top of the line where blogging is concerned, but if you ever intend to edit a theme or write a plugin with no knowledge of PHP, things get tough very fast.


I’ve already written about how good WordPress looks in my review, and everything is equally good, if not better with the downloaded version. Themes are created by a huge community of users, some good, others ugly not to my taste. The great thing about WordPress is that almost anything is possible in theme designing – Ajax, easy integration with Flickr, Flash, and it’s all done on a platform that’s dedicated to producing standards complaint code. If you don’t understand what that means just buzz it out and understand that it’s good, all good.

Wednesday, 28 February, 2007 for Authors

This is post is part of the ‘Choosing the right blogging platform – For Authors‘ series started four days ago. After reviewing Blogger I decided to take a look at another good, easy to use and ‘free’ (more on this later) platform available for writing online.

The popular Scobleizer blog (in the Technorati top 100 blogs list) is hosted on the platform (quite different from, which you have to download and install yourself). While it looks customized, don’t be fooled – is not quite the lovely maiden it seems.


Ease of Use

WordPress is one of the most powerful blogging platforms out there, and it is a daunting task for the average internet user to mod and customize it. The good news is this: makes it easy enough for anybody to blog using WordPress, and look good while doing it. The bad news? It rips out a lot of the features that make WordPress so cool.

But back to its ease of use. seems polished and beautiful – posting is clean and easy (not to mention Ajaxy) and everything is distilled to checkboxes and menus. Want to add a link? No need to write a whole list of <li> tags – just go to the blogroll section in the interface and fill in the necessary blanks.

The way goes out of its way to ease things for you almost makes you feel pampered. Big fonts and even bigger buttons are everywhere, wrapped with a beautiful blue colour scheme. Feed subscribers and site visitors are seamlessly integrated with a Flash (or was it Ajax?) display panel. Quite simply, the platform treats you like an idiot. Very nicely, if I may add.

Looks looks great. All the themes available are well selected – nice lines and readable fonts. Behind the scenes the platform looks just as good, if not better – the navigation bar at the top uncluttered and clearly defined. Any average Joe can really enjoy himself writing, but there’s a major problem.


You can’t edit or create or upload your own themes.

Wait! Let me elaborate before you start bombing me with comment spam – I’ve been waiting and waiting for them to release that particular feature, but weeks had dragged into months before any change was made. And, Oh! What a change it was! You need to pay to edit yuor themes – and even then only the css style sheets! If you’re sticking to free, has added features that might attract you – such as the fact that all their themes are widgetised now, and there are a wider selection of quality templates which i’m sure will grow over time.


But, for the rest of the world (read: the users of the free accounts) is by and large based on the same themes, and no matter how good looking each of them are it’ll be hard top stand out on such a platform.

Monday, 26 February, 2007

Blogger for Authors

This is post is part of the ‘Choosing the right blogging platform – For Authors‘ series started two days ago. Here i’ll be reviewing the suitability of the Blogger platform as a medium for blooking, or writing a book on a blog.

The Blogger platform has got it pretty good after being acquired by Google and coming out of a second beta. It’s a simple platform, free, instantly available, and very user friendly. The interface has only 3 tabs – posting, settings and template, keeping options easily accessible and providing a simple flow to any first-time blogger.

Ease of Use

Blooger is amongst the easiest blogging platforms to use. You start off with creating an account, choosing a theme and then you can immediately start posting with a simple interface.


One of its biggest attractions is the fact that Blogger is widely supported. You can post with it through email, phone and services like Flickr and Technorati work with Blogger (almost) seamlessly. Setting are very easily tweaked – a button here, an option there.


You can’t go wrong with Blogger’s default templates – they’re all clean, and beautifully done – both inside (code) and outside (looks). It turns out that the Blogger team hired Stopdesign to do their themes, and a look under the hood of these templates shows just how good these guys actually are.


The main problem with this, however, is the fact that after awhile it all becomes bland. Here is where the ease of use of the Blogger platform shines through. Templates are created in a one page xHTML document, although clever Blogger users have been known to create Flash and Ajaxified Blogger blogs. It’s flexible to a certain degree – but you can’t deny that your coding options are pretty limited. :(

On the up side, it’s incredibly easy to edit or create a template – for beginners, load up Minima and start tinkering. Extra templates can be found here and here, but bear in mind the design elements i talked about in my Writing An Addictive Blook series – particularly the point about fonts needing to be big enough for readers to be comfortable with.


Here Blogger scores less marks. A result of all that ease-of-use is that the Blogger platform is static, or severely limited. With the new Blogger (right out of beta) some of the old platform’s issues have been addressed, but unfortunately there’s bound to be a limit, what with it being a free service and all. What am i talking about? Well, let’s take a look at Blogger’s feed options for example.

By default Blogger offers both Atom and RSS, but what are your options for customizing these feeds? Can you exclude certain categories of posts from ending up being published in your feed? Can you edit the way your feed is presented? No, i thought not. And while Blogger has ‘linkback’ it doesn’t have trackback – the standard used by WordPress and Movable Type blogs.